Prenanthes is recognized by the erect and simple habit, deeply divided proximal leaves, whitish, yellow, or pinkish corollas in nodding heads, calyculate involucres, and pappi of barbellulate bristles. Leaf shape, size, and degree of lobing are often used for distinguishing species but are sometimes exceptionally variable. The proximal leaves are usually different in size, shape, and lobing from the distal leaves. Other taxonomic characters include size and habit, corolla color, number of florets per head, and phyllary number, color, and indument. The cypselae and pappi tend to be uniform.